Diet for Multiple Sclerosis, help to manage MS a little easier

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that most often strikes people between the ages of 20 and 40. MS is characterized by the gradual destruction of the myelin sheaths that insulate the nerve fibers, thus robbing nerves of the ability to transmit impulses.

Although the symptoms of Multiple sclerosis vary depending on the sites where myelin is destroyed in the brain and spinal cord, most people suffer abnormal fatigue, impaired vision, slurred speech, loss of balance and muscle coordination, difficulty chewing and swallowing, tremors, bladder and bowel problems, and, in severe cases, paralysis.

Nutrition Connection

The main role of diet for those with MS is to help control symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, urinary tract infections, and problems with chewing and swallowing. Here are guidelines to discuss with your doctor or dietician:

-Think low-fat, high-fiber. A low-fat, high-fiber diet that contains fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can be helpful in managing MS by providing energy and nutrients to maintain and repair tissues, to fight infections, and to keep the risk of constipation low. Some foods include prune juice, bran cereal, raspberries, strawberries, whole wheat pastas, whole grain breads and cereals, barley, bran flakes, split peas, lentils, artichokes, peas, and broccoli.

-Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Some scientists believe that free radical damage can promote the progression of MS. Antioxidants are believed to counter the effect of these free radicals, so it is prudent to include antioxidant-rich foods in your daily diet. These include fruits and vegetables for vitamin C and beta-carotene, such as oranges, carrots and papaya; vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds for vitamin E; and whole grains, nuts, and seafood for selenium.

-Get plenty of vitamin D. Some studies suggest that vitamin D might prevent progression of the disease or may play other protective roles. In addition, people with MS are at risk for osteoporosis, and vitamin D plays an important role in lowering this risk. Good food sources include milk, fortified soy and rice beverages, fatty fish, and margarine.

-Increase fluid intake. Constipation is aggravated by an inadequate fluid intake. Also, urinary tract infections are often a problem for people with MS, particularly when they have to undergo frequent catheterizations. Drinking cranberry juice may help by increasing urinary acidity and creating a hostile environment for bacteria.

Regulate your temp
Heat worsens multiple sclerosis symptoms in many people, so make sure your air conditioners are working well in summer, avoid hot tubs, and choose swimming pools that aren’t kept too warm.

-Avoid caffeine. If urinary incontinence is a problem, people with MS should avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, and colas, and save chocolate (it also contains caffeine) for an occasional treat. Caffeine has a diuretic effect and irritates the bladder.

-Eat small, frequent meals. This helps to provide a constant source of energy.

-Don’t skip breakfast. A nutritious breakfast provides an important energy boost to start the day.

-Avoid problem foods. Some people with MS have problems with bowel incontinence, which may be worsened by diet. Try eliminating suspect items such as coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods from the diet for a few days; then reintroduce them one at a time to see if the problem recurs.

-Be careful with food textures. Modify food preparations to address difficulties with chewing and swallowing. For example, substitute shakes, yogurt, fruit and vegetable purees, thick soups, and puddings for firm or dry dishes.

-Be wary of unproven diets. Some physicians as well as MS support groups advocate the Swank diet (named for the professor who proposed it in 1950), which eliminates most animal fats. This diet was evaluated for many years, with inconclusive results. Other diets that have been proposed for treating MS are riskier, because they may lead to unbalanced or inadequate nutrition. Among them are liquid diets, crash diets, raw food diets, diets that restrict intake of pectin and fructose, and gluten-free regimens. None of these have been proven effective.

-Look into vitamin therapy. Vitamin therapy has been promoted as helpful for people with MS. Studies suggest that vitamin D may lower the risk of developing MS. Your doctor can help determine the right dosage for you.
-200 new cases of multiple sclerosis are diagnosed each week in the U.S.

Beyond the Diet

Although there is no cure, and living with MS can be difficult, these lifestyle adjustments may help to manage Multiple sclerosis a little easier:

-Don’t smoke. MS sufferers often experience diarrhea or incontinence. Because nicotine can (among many other health effects) stimulate the bowel, which worsens these symptoms, it is important not to smoke.

-Exercise. For those with mild to moderate MS, regular aerobic exercise can improve strength, muscle tone, balance, and coordination. It also helps relieve stress and symptoms of depression.

-Rest. Address fatigue by getting plenty of sleep at night.

-Watch your weight. It is especially important to maintain an appropriate weight related to height. Excess weight can add to mobility problems and can fatigue and strain the respiratory and circulatory systems. Being underweight is also undesirable, because it may decrease resistance to infection and increase the risk of developing pressure sores and other skin ulcers.

-Seek emotional support. Stay connected to your friends and family, and talk to your doctor who may be able to recommend a therapist, counselor, or support group in your area for those dealing with MS.
Powered by Blogger.